Six federal prosecutors from San Francisco have been honored by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for pursuing a money laundering case against a former Ukrainian prime minister.

The six prosecutors won a jury conviction of former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko in federal court in San Francisco in 2004 for using U.S. banks to launder $21.7 million extorted from a businessman in Ukraine in the 1990s.

The San Francisco attorneys were among 286 present and former Justice Department employees who were given the attorney general’s annual award for distinguished service at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

Holder said of the group, “I’m proud to call them my colleagues.”

Lazarenko, 56, was prime minister of Ukraine in 1996 and 1997 and fled to the United States in 1999. He later bought a $6.7 million house in Novato.

He was only the second former foreign leader to be prosecuted in a U.S. court. The first was deposed Gen. Manuel Noriega of Panama, who was sentenced in federal court in Miami in 1992 to 30 years in prison for cocaine trafficking.

Lazarenko was convicted of eight counts of laundering the $21.7 million and six other fraud and stolen property transportation counts related to the alleged looting of another $14 million from a state-owned dairy in Ukraine. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Last year, a federal appeals court upheld the money laundering convictions but dismissed the six other convictions. Lazerenko is due to be resentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco on Nov. 18.

Lazarenko has a final appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to consider at an Oct. 30 conference whether to take up his case.

The six prosecutors who received the awards are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Axelrod, Patricia Kenney, Stephanie Hinds and Hartley West and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Howden and Martha Boersch, who are now in private practice.

Paralegal Specialist Christine Ying Tian also received an award for her work on the case.

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